Triumph T160 Trident
Restyled and road-ready, the 1975 Triumph T160 Trident was the bike Triumph should have launched in 1968
There's no denying the Trident's good looks: A T160 is a visual treat.
Photo by Roland Brown
Triumph T160 Trident (1975)
Years produced: 1975-76
Total production: 7,000 (est.)
Claimed power: 58bhp @ 7,250rpm
Top speed: 109mph
Engine type: Air-cooled, in-line three-cylinder
Weight: (dry) 228kg (502lb)
Price then: $2,870
Price now: $6,600-$11,000
The sun was shining, the Triumph T160 Trident was running perfectly and I was slightly late taking it back to its owner — the perfect excuse for a last, fast ride. When a gap appeared in the traffic, I glanced over my shoulder, flicked down a gear and accelerated into the fast lane of the highway.
This was the final opportunity for the big Triumph to show its class, and it did not disappoint. With the throttle wound back the Trident pulled hard, its engine feeling stronger and stronger as the revs rose. I changed into top gear at an indicated 100mph and the tachometer needle dropped back to 6000rpm, the bike still accelerating gently as I crouched over the broad gas tank.
When I backed-off the throttle for a series of sweeping curves the Triumph remained effortlessly stable, banking to left and right with confidence-inspiring solidity. On the following straight it held an indicated 90mph with ease, exhaust note lost to the wind, plenty of power in hand, the unfaired machine's narrow, almost flat handlebars giving a good riding position for high-speed cruising. This was genuine superbike performance from the machine that, until the resurrection of Triumph in 1990, represented the pinnacle of mass-produced British motorcycling.
Pushing for Market Share
The Triumph T160 Trident was launched in 1975, in a desperate attempt to make the Trident model a success following the disappointing sales of the original T150 version, which was announced in 1968. Completely restyled and with more than 200 mechanical modifications, the T160 was the bike that belatedly dragged Triumph into the modern era.
The revamped Trident could hardly have been introduced at a more difficult time for Norton Villiers Triumph (NVT), the group that owned the BSA and Norton marques, as well as Triumph. By the mid-Seventies, Britain's once-great motorcycle industry was in deep financial trouble. In 1974, NVT reportedly lost close to $4,000,000. In the same year, workers at Triumph's Meriden factory began a sit-in to protest threatened mass job cuts.
In those circumstances the T160, which was built not at Triumph's Meriden factory but a short distance across the English Midlands at the BSA factory in Small Heath, Birmingham, was a surprisingly good bike. Its air-cooled, 740cc pushrod engine was basically that of the T150 triple, but incorporating a number of modifications. The most important was certainly the addition of an electric starter — one of the modern features that had helped Honda's CB750 outsell the T150 by a huge margin during the previous six years.
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